Datelines by Prof. Kolozsy

By Lee Kolozsy

 

Last week at "Crossroads Village"...

Home of the "Huckleberry Railroad"...

A 19th century amusement park with a real steam train on eight miles of track features a Jesse James style train robbery, also a real paddlewheeler with a live band playing all night in the middle of a beautiful lake...

Best thing in the park is a 1912 Parker Carousel with real wooden horses...

Except for maybe Carla Wallenda performing high above, and Prof. Laszlo presenting an educational lecture on the American Circus Menagerie followed by an invitation to visit the strange "Giants of the Jungle"... 

Dateline... Inkster Michigan

Inner city neighborhood rec center parking lot?

An oasis of culture in a bleak and desolate area of public assisted housing and closed businesses?

A pool, a game room, a fitness center, and armed guards?

Provided by the City?

On the streets, the natives are also armed?

The carnival makes a stand?

As we lay the lot, Colonel Jarhead spots a bullet on the pavement?

"My military background tells me that this slug came from a distance at a twenty degree trajectory" He states rather matter of factly?

" I feel like going a great distance at a ninety degree trajectory" replies Chief Punkslapper?

I calmly remind him that we open on the fifteenth, and the checks conveniently land on the same day?

They eyeball me for a minute, look at one another, and Chief says, ""Good point Professor, we'll risk it!"?

To be continued?



As we spot the loads, the prevailing mood is tense?

This is a scary place, the neighborhood looks like a war zone, we appear to be the only white people around, and the heat on the
asphalt lot is unbearable?

By the time all the rides, joints, and shows are placed on location and ready to set up, we are exhausted?

Col. Jarhead, ( ex marine, Vietnam era, now general manager of concessions ) pulls up on the golf cart with Chief Punkslapper, (lifelong Showman, circus fan, carnival historian, ride expert, now ride superintendent )?

"Get on, Professor, council of war at the officer's club"?

The cart lands in a secluded spot behind the rec center in the shade of a big maple tree, and even before we stop rolling, the doobie is being passed?

"F-ing advance man, booking the show into the ghetto!"?

"Relax Colonel," I respond, "This may work out yet" ?

"We're gonna end up in cooking pots like missionaries." Comments Chief Punkslapper?

"Boys, we're Showmen, we can handle this too" ?

"I hope you're right Professor, but I have my doubts, pass that thing will you"?

to be continued? 

Overnight, the show takes form in the reddish glare of sodium streetlights. The Carnies move in an antlike procession carrying endless bits and pieces assembled into an intricate sculpture that casts monochrome shadows on the asphalt?

No green help?

By the first light of day, all movement had ceased?

It was now a Carnival?

The Carnies were all passed out in the bunkhouse trailers and RVs pulled alongside the rec center?

Not from liquor, not from drugs, just plain fatigue?

The other two will doubtless follow?

First we must meet the Natives?

to be continued?

Nine in the morning in the ghetto and before I could finish my coffee the excrement collides with the ventilator?

Col. Jarhead does a Barney Oldfield maneuver on the cart and pulls up like Hell Drivers on the horse track?

"Get in! It's a native uprising! The jungle drums are calling for war!"

We streak for the rec center?

The all black committee is up in arms. It seems that some of our people had offended them?

I mentally reviewed what had been going around, and was a little disconcerted when I recalled that even I had referred to the festival as the "African State Fair"?

Mrs. Willcox was large and in charge. She was an older black lady who was heading up the festival committee?

 

They had provided water and 24 hour electric for the support trailers, they had left a door unlocked on the side of the rec center so we could get in at night, they had given us access to the locker rooms so the ride boys could shower, we
had use of the sauna, the pool, the weight room, Nautilus gear, carte blanche?

This led to the problem?

This morning was the teenage girls basketball team practice?

It appears that Heckle and Jeckle, the two adolescent (twelve and fourteen) sons of Wheel Man John, had sneaked into the girls locker room and concealed themselves in the lockers to verify the rumor that it was all indeed pink inside?

The plan fell apart when the older brother passed out and tumbled from the locker as the girls were snapping one another with towels after their shower?

When the head of the sponsoring organization asked me what I thought of the boy's behavior, I had to reply?

"You know Mrs. Wilcox, under the circumstances, I think I might have passed out myself!" 
 
Dateline... Detroit...

Jim Z's experience in West Allis Wisconsin at the State Fair is nothing short of typical...

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit approved the use of a city park for our small carnival to day and date the State Fair less than a block away...

Our sponsor was the Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church...

I had attempted to book all of our attractions to the State Fair, knowing fully well that it would never happen, and of course it was rejected...

My plan was to advertise our show as "Banned from the State Fair"...

The State Fair has a high admission charge at the gate...

Our show would have been free...

The political strings that were pulled to prevent this extended through many powerful factions of city government...

The forces that wanted to stop us finally succeeded by a police order requiring us to hire fifty officers at thirty seven fifty per hour for "security"...

This of course was impossible for us to overcome...

It would have been interesting to see if our "alternative fair" would have given the Michigan State Fair a run for the money...

If competition is the American way, apparently, fairs want no part of it...

At least we pissed them off...

Our show moved on...

In the future, we will find a way to day and date major fairs, and offer the public a better show for less money...

Sideshows will be a part of it...

David brought down Goliath...

One petty official simply cannot be permitted to prevent the people of Wisconsin from seeing a sideshow, after all Wisconsin is the ancestral home of the Ringlings and a state rich in circus history...

more later...

 

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